Monday, June 23, 2008


When we are at the cabin, Lynne accuses me of having certain obsessions. To me, they are not obsessions as much as “practicalities” that need attention in cabin life.

The biggie is electricity. The cabin is powered by solar electricity. We have 8 solar panels on the roof that can generate about 28 Amps of current at 24 Volts for charging eight 6-Volt batteries wired into two banks of 24 Volts. The total capacity of the batteries is about 800 Amp-Hours of use, but to prevent complete discharge and a shortening of battery life, I like to make sure we don’t ever use more than about 400 Amp-Hours of that capacity without recharging. So, I closely monitor the battery Amp-Hour usage, current drains of various tasks, and the battery voltage. Now, that does not sound like obsession, does it?

After all, if we lose electricity, we lose lights (we could use lanterns and candles), we lose TV and Internet (we could read by lantern light), we lose water since the well pump is electric, and we lose the hair dryer (disaster.)

So, I am frequently opening the utility room door and peering at the system statistics. And, I run around the cabin turning off lights if they are not necessary. If we have some electricity intensive activities going on like vacuuming the floor or taking a shower, I will start up our back up generator, especially if the batteries are “running low.” Cloudy days are particularly frustrating for me and for Lynne since my attention to practicalities drives her crazy.

We have a wind generator, but it is not currently installed atop its 64-foot tower and wired into the system since we don’t want to leave it running when the cabin is infrequently used. But, when installed, it provides an extra boost to the electrical capacity of the house—especially since it can run day and night and because we get so much wind here. But, without it, my attention to the solar electric system is even more intense.

I’m accused of other obsessions, too. Things like “chores”—I try to do one or two chores each day, usually in the morning. Chores are things like cutting and splitting wood, painting something, repairing a fence, deep cleaning the cabin (which takes lots of electricity), etc. I think these are necessary practicalities since, left undone, the cabin will deteriorate and life here will be less comfortable. I think Lynne is a bit better with the chores than the electrical system obsession.

On this trip, I was also accused of having an obsession with getting the satellite Internet running. I may post more about that saga later, but I was very focused on getting it to work because I knew we’d actually have a less stressful time if we could check in on our house in NJ, if Lynne could blog, and we could stay in touch with the outside world. Obviously, that obsession eventually paid off, or you would not be reading this message which is being created on my Mac at the cabin. And, since this consumes a few watts of electricity, I will now sign off.

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Posted under: Stuff You Gotta Know! • by Rick on 06/23/2008 at 08:14 AM
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  1. I know exactly where you are coming from, we are on grid but try to not use it.

    Buy an Asus 90(x) eee pc if you can, uses very little power, has a great battery (at least six hours) for while you are travelling. Fantastic machines. Fits in my handbag and weighs 1.05 kilo. Also v small power supply. Costs about 450-500 bucks.

    So even if power goes you wont need to panic for a while grin

    Husband and I travel a lot but can’t stand carrying bricks. Invested in one of these and mobile broadband pay as you go. 100 Euro up front payment for usb modem then up to 3 gb traffic a month free, then you pay per mb on top.

    Its really just for emergencies, we have landline and satellite broadband in our homes.

    Coverage is pretty good as we travel in the providers sweet spots as it were.

    So happy we’re going to buy one each to stop the squabbling.

    Best of luck


    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  09/14/2008  at  05:18 PM

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